Okay, first, as mentioned earlier, we are coming up with some very cool prizes to go with an even cooler contest. I don't have all the details yet, but we're going to be asking for audience participation in our Round Robin. First we're going to have readers suggest contribute a scene that brings Fat Frank back into the story. Remember Fat Frank of the Tooney Salooney? Bunny ears and mud? How could you forget. And then there will be another reader/writer contest to follow. Stay tuned for details.
That said, here is the next installment of Pandora's Box. If you're coming to the story late, you might want to start here. It has everything to date--EXCEPT the last installment before this one, which you'll find here.
So with no futher ado.....
Leann had always considered herself a well rounded person. She had a college education, a demanding career. She’d been in touch with her inner child and confronted her dysfunctional past. She’d thought she was a smart, sassy, together woman.
But in the past twenty-four hours she’d come to realize she didn’t know shit about herself.
Realization number one had come with the big O. Her first, not counting the ones she had alone. How could that be? Even worse -- how could it be that she’d never thought her life lacking when the best sex she’d had was in the bathtub by herself?
Realization number two had actually come before the orgasm, but it took that release to really face it. She was hell and gone from being well rounded. What would she be doing right now if it wasn’t for Aaron? Would she be home crying and ripping her hair out because she was too afraid to act? Most likely. Sadly. Absolutely.
Realization number three hit her when the men walked through the door. It was time to change. From head to toe, Leann needed to start fresh. As soon as they got out of here, she was going to make Aaron take her straight to Walmart where she could buy a pair of jeans, tennis shoes and sweatshirt. No more getting caught in a mud slide wearing pumps.
Mustering as much dignity as she could in her muddied, torn clothes, knowing that she had to look like she’d just had her first two-party orgasm, she leveled a look at Aaron.
“Let’s start over,” she said and her voice sounded firm and decisive. “Who the hell are you?”
The three men exchanged glances for a moment.
“Not a trick question,” Leann said. “Who. Are. You?”
Aaron stepped forward. “Maybe you should sit down.”
“I don’t want to sit down. I want answers.”
“Honey, I’m going to give them to you. But you’re going to fall over.”
It irked her that it was true, but she had no one but herself to blame on that account. She was the one who’d worn those ridiculous shoes and sprained her ankle.
Aaron helped her to the chair and squatted down in front of her. The position was identical to where he’d been an hour before and the memory of how that had unfolded hit them both at the same time. Aaron looked into her eyes and smiled. Some of the starch came out of her spine. God he was something. She wondered what else she might learn about herself if they went for round two?
“I’m not a school teacher,” he said softly. “I used to be, but I left five years ago when my best friend died. He was murdered.”
Leann’s mouth dropped open. She didn’t know what she’d expected from him, but this wasn’t it.
“I work for the government now.”
“In what capacity,” she asked, stunned at the coolness in her tone.
“I’m part of task force that investigates technology fraud.”
“WHAT? Like the CIA or something?”
“Not exactly. Actually, it’s the Department of Transportation.”
She shook her head, unable to process what he was saying. A technology task force from the department of transportation? What the hell?
She frowned. “What does that have to do with Suzy. . .or me?”
He glanced over his shoulder for a moment at the two men standing behind them. “Can you give me a minute?” he asked. The two men nodded and stepped outside.
“Leann,” he said, turning back to her. “What happened here, with us. . .that has nothing to do with anything but you—” He touched her chest. “And me.”
With that he lifted her hand and put it over his heart.
“I know my timing sucked, but it is what it is. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get you out of that silk shirt since you put it on. The place would have had to catch fire to stop me. You understand?”
She nodded, trying to look stern and unflappable, but unable to keep the pleased smile off her lips. He’d wanted her that bad? Had anyone ever wanted her that bad before? Uh, no. He was speaking again, so she tried to focus.
“When your sister was at Fat Franks last week, she hooked up with one of Marchasi’s men, a guy named Davy Slauter. Ever heard of him?”
She shook her head.
“Davy was talking about Golden Billy. About his fuel invention and how it was never going to see the light of day.”
“Of course it’s going to see the light of day,” Leann said.
“Well, I think Davy’s intention was to bury the invention with the inventor.”
“But Suzy didn’t know who she was dealing with. She told him he was wrong because her sister knew all about it and it really worked. She’s pretty proud of you.”
“She is?” Leann whispered.
“But she shouldn’t have opened her mouth.”
“You mean that’s why these people have her?”
“Because they think you can get them Billy’s technology.”
“But I just write his speeches. And even then he doesn’t say them right.”
“Marchasi has investments in oil. Billy’s fuel replacement would put him out of business. He’s not going to let that happen and if it means torturing your sister until they convince you to steal what they want. . .”
“But she got away.”
Aaron looked down and shook his head.
“She got away, Aaron. We heard her. . .”
Aaron stood and opened the front door. The two men came back in.
“Tell her what you know,” Aaron said.